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China Says ‘No’ to Pirated Software

Xinhua, 5 April 2002

TIANJIN, April 5 (Xinhua)—China has resorted to laws and regulations to crack down on the production and marketing of pirated software, in order to better protect intellectual property rights.

Regulations on the management of audio-visual products, which became effective in February, for the first time stipulate that those people who are engaged in the production and marketing of pirated products will be prosecuted.

The Copyright Law, which was revised last year, and the newly-promulgated regulations on the protection of computer software fully embody protection of the rights and interests of copyright owners.

Authoritative statistics show that China's authorized software industry suffers a direct annual loss of more than 40 billion yuan (4.8 billion U.S. dollars) brought about by pirated versions.

Pirated software has taken off nationwide because it is sold at a very low price compared to the authorized versions.

To this end, four state ministries and departments, including the Ministry of Finance and the National Copyright Administration (NCA), jointly issued a circular stipulating that government departments must make a special budget this year for purchasing authorized software.

The circular says that those departments, who do not buy authorized software and are charged with infringement of copyright, can be sued for damages. Relevant leaders and people who buy pirated software in person will be given administrative punishment.

The government's efforts to root out pirated software have won growing support from both consumers and local government bodies nationwide.

As a consumer, I think people should pay respect to the work of others while enjoying their own rights. This also amounts to self-respect, said a 40-year-old consumer of an intellectual origin in Tianjin, north China.

Tianjin Municipal Government has launched a month-long drive to promote the use of authorized software.

Consumers have also benefited a lot from the utilization of authorized software.

Shen Xuemei, head of computer management at the Beijing Municipal Architecture Design Institute, said, Using authorized software, we can enjoy official training and better after-sale services from software developers. More important, we know more functions of the software than in the past.

Beijing Huasiwei Science and Technology Company is also one of the beneficiaries. General Manager Wu Xiaoyuan said his company had sold less than 30 sets of software annually in the past, while in 2001, the company sold nearly 2,000 sets.

Encouraged by the government's purchase of authorized software, major Chinese software and audio-visual products developers have put forward low-price software and audio-visual products to attract consumers since the end of last year.

Beijing has invested more than one million yuan (120,000 U.S. dollars) in publicizing the use of authorized products among its 1. 2 million primary, middle school and college students. In Tianjin- based Nankai University, more students have voluntarily joined the boycott of pirated products.

The improved market environment for authorized software and audio-visual products is attributed to the hard strike that the Chinese government has taken against pirating activities.

The Ministry of Culture ordered the closure of 277 audio-visual products centers nationwide. On March 10, Beijing announced the verdict on a case involving the country's biggest ever pirated books rings. Dealers of the pirated books were harshly punished.

The government will not stop its efforts to crack down on pirating activities so long as they exist, said Xu Chao, an official with the NCA, noting that it is the basic principle.